Letters to the Editor

Parks board needs to get on board | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

I recently attended a parks district public meeting because they were going to take comments from the public on the issue of off-leash dogs in our parks.

This has been a concern of mine for the last several years - I think it has now been about four years ago that I first called the parks director. My concern was that I had adopted two dogs from the Humane Society who required serious exercise in order to be “good citizens” yet there seemed to be no accommodation for their needs.

I was told that there would be a citizens advisory board formed to look into this matter and sure enough, two years later that happened. I was on the committee long enough to be told that none of our suggestions would be implemented by the elected board. I asked why we were making this effort if the board had already decided that with the exception of the Eagledale Dog Park, there would be no off-lease dog use of the parks. No answer.

Hmmm. The parks district comprehensive plan spells out in some detail a range of off-lease options similar to the suggestions made by a couple of members of the advisory committee but the Board had already given the opposite direction to staff. I questioned how this could be as there had been no public discussion about the off-leash component of the comprehensive plan.

Now, it seems that there are a couple of new parks board members and this public meeting was being held because they were getting “so many complaints” about off-leash use of the parks. Well, surprise, surprise!

So, briefly here’s what was recommended a couple of years ago:

Education and training for dogs, owners and other park users so everyone understands things like when dogs who are on a leash meet dogs who are not, there may be some agitation.

Or some people are afraid of dogs so when they decide to use a park they need to be able to do so without the fear of encountering an off-leash dog who probably would want to run up to them to greet them but would misunderstand the human’s reaction thinking that he/she was being aggressive/afraid.

Good citizen training for dogs (which one of mine would never pass no matter how long we worked on it).

Shared use of the parks: Certain parks/trails would have posted hours when off-leash use is OK. Caveats: Ballfields should be excluded from off-leash use because even if the poop has been picked up, it’s still icky to think about my kid picking up a ball that rolled through that spot.

Battle Point Park: I never use this park but lots and lots of other people do and as it turns out, it is aptly named. An effort to have an off-leash area there was put on hold, maybe because it was in a wet area (and after the fiasco at Eagledale, we don’t need another one of those). However, there is clearly a demand for some area at this park for people to run with their dogs without harm to ducks, ankles or psyches. Really, folks - you’re a smart bunch work out a plan and if you have to, force feed it to the board. They just want the Humane Society to fine you $300 every time they catch you. The acting director of the Humane Society didn’t seem too excited about that. See, there is some sanity out there. No battles at Battle Point, please!

Poop: Yes, pick up the poop - even if your dog didn’t leave it. Think of it as paying forward a kindness because surely each of our dogs have sneaked off and left a pile without our seeing it. One of the people at the meeting confessed to already doing that and I wanted to applaud her as a fellow poop picker-upper. One of the board members is really concerned about the poop infecting the water and killing off the salmon. I’m a little sick of hearing that argument about everything. He worked for the EPA so may be a little prejudiced. But none of that changes the icky factor.

So, for those that need statistics, someone at the meeting quoted a number of 6,000 dogs on the island?? That’s a lot. We need to remind the board that we all have supported the parks district and continue to do so every time we get our tax bill. They need to get “on board” and fix this. It’s actually quite simple. That way, they get to stay on the board and get credit for being problem-solvers.

KAREN ROSS

Bainbridge Island

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